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What Child Is This?

Beacon Baptist / Gregory N. Barkman
The Truth Network Radio
December 18, 2022 6:00 pm

What Child Is This?

Beacon Baptist / Gregory N. Barkman

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December 18, 2022 6:00 pm

The Scriptures reveal to us the identity and character of Jesus, the baby born to Mary in Bethlehem. Pastor Greg Barkman speaks from the account in Luke 2.

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Well, I've noticed there are a lot of Christmas songs that have the element of curiosity and questioning about them. The one I brought to the pulpit is, our keeping, and so forth.

Why lies he in such mean estate where ox and ass are feeding? Good Christian fear, for sinners hear the silent word is pleading. That's just one, of course.

We sing another one that starts with a question. Who is he in yonder stall? We've all no doubt heard the hymn, Mary, did you know that your child was the son of God? And it's clear that the coming of Jesus Christ was not only the birth of a normal baby, but was also the birth of a supernatural baby. And it was very difficult for people to figure out exactly who this was. What is the nature of this child?

Who is he? There's something different about him, obviously different about him, both about him and about the circumstances of his birth. And yet it's hard to pin it down exactly. And it's important, however, that we know who this child is. And of course, there are many, many places in God's word we can go to get answers to that question. But today we're going to ask Simeon, who is this child? Simeon, whose account is given to us in Luke chapter 2. Before we get to Simeon, I should say to Zacharias, the son of John the Baptist, this child was a day spring from on high. To the shepherds in the field, he was the savior who is Christ the Lord. To Mary, the mother of Jesus, he was the son of the highest. And to Joseph, he was Emmanuel, God with us. To the Magi who came from a long distance in order to see this child, he is the king of the Jews.

And so there are many, many, many answers to this question. But now Simeon, this man, this mysterious man who's in the temple in Jerusalem, will you please tell us what child is this? And as we consider the account of Simeon, I think we will get some of the answers to that question that are important to us. And so Simeon, what child is this? And we can begin by saying this child is one who obeyed the law. And that brings us to the beginning of the text I read to you earlier in Luke chapter 2 verses 21 to 24, which shows us how meticulously Mary and Joseph kept every detail of the law that pertained to the birth of a child. Because as Paul tells us in Galatians chapter 4, he was born of a woman, born under the law, that he might redeem those who are under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.

Don't miss the connection there. If he had not been born under the law and kept the law, then there would be no redemption for us. Our redemption depends upon his being one who was subject to the law and who fulfilled the law, like none of us have, for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God, and that sin is the breaking of the law. We are all guilty of that, and there would seem to be no remedy for that except, oh yes, there is a remedy, a God-appointed remedy, a divine remedy, a miraculous remedy, a remedy that is tied to this child. What child is this? This is the child, the only child ever born to woman who kept the law, who abated perfectly. There are three requirements of the law pertaining to the birth of a child that are recorded for us in Luke chapter 2 verses 21 through 24. There is, number one, the law of circumcision, number two, the law of purification, and number three, the law of redemption. The law of circumcision is referred to in verse 21. And when eight days were completed for the circumcision of the child, his name was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb. The law of circumcision, this rite, this physical act, this operation that was first given to Abraham in Genesis chapter 17 and then reiterated by Moses. Remember when the children of Israel came out of Egypt, they had a time where they stopped and they circumcised all of the males and had to wait for that period of healing to take place before they could continue on. And then when they came into the land, they had to do it again because they had not been doing it on the eighth day as was prescribed because of their wilderness situation made it difficult and possible really for them to carry it out in that way.

But once they got to the land, then they started carrying it out exactly as prescribed according to the law. The eighth day, that was the commandment. On the eighth day, your male children shall be circumcised according to the law of God. And so, administered to all male children on the eighth day, this sign of God's covenant with his people was given and Jesus, who was born to Mary, who was a Jew, he was born into the Jewish family, he was born into the line of those to whom this rite and this covenant had been given. Jesus, therefore, kept the law of circumcision and on the eighth day he was circumcised. We're not told where that took place, probably in Bethlehem.

It usually took place in the home, in the location where the child was born with the friends and family and neighbors of the child to participate and yet they were far, far, far from home and did not have their normal friends and relatives around them. I wonder who was there to support the family during this important time on the eighth day when he was circumcised and named. The naming officially was done at that time of the circumcision and all of this is carried out in exact detail in regard to Jesus. He obeyed the law of circumcision. He also obeyed the law of purification and the law of purification and the law of redemption or presentation, as it's sometimes called, is intermingled in the next two verses. It's hard. You pull one phrase out that applies to one and you pull another phrase out and that applies to the other.

Let me try to separate them for you. We read in verse 22, Now when the days of her purification, of course, the purification pertains to the mother. Now on the days of her purification, according to the law of Moses, were completed, they brought him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord. As it is written in the law of the Lord, every male who opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the law of the Lord, a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons. Well, the days of her purification, we're told, were completed according to the law of Moses.

You're going to hear something like that, that phrase or something similar to it several times in these verses. This is according to the law of Moses. This is according to what God told Moses.

This is according to the law, this emphasis upon the law, the law, the law and his perfect completion, his perfect obedience to the law. Mary was required to bring a sacrifice to the temple, this now would be in Jerusalem, because of this necessity of purification. Let's see if I can find that for you in Leviticus chapter two.

These are the instructions that God gave to Moses for his people concerning the mother and what takes place after the birth. When the days of her purification are fulfilled, whether for a son or a daughter, she shall bring to the priest a lamb of the first years of burnt offering, and a young pigeon or a turtledove is a sin offering to the door of the tabernacle of meeting. Then he shall offer it before the Lord and make atonement for her, and she shall be clean from the flow of her blood. This is the law for her who has borne a male or a female. And if she is not able to bring a lamb, then she may bring two turtledoves or two young pigeons, one as a burnt offering and the other as a sin offering, so the priest shall make atonement for her and she will be clean.

There is a little bit of mystery attached to this. For example, why does the law, and I didn't read this part, but why does the law prescribe that if a woman has a male child, the days of her purification number 40, but if she has a female child, the days of her purification number 80? In fact, why does she need to be purified at all in having the birth of a child? And the best answer I can give you at this time in my understanding, and I don't claim to have a complete understanding of all of this, some of this is speculation and supposition on my part, but I think the point is that this woman, this mother, has brought a sinner into the world and she is defiled thereby and is ceremonially unclean and has to be cleansed in order to partake of worship in the days moving forward. And, again, my speculation, this is really even more speculation, I think, why 40 days for a male and 80 for a female, and it just occurred to me, I've never exactly had any answer for that until last week, I think it was, I dealt with the text in Genesis 3.15, the Proto-Evangelium, where Eve succumbed to the temptation.

And the Bible tells us clearly that Eve was deceived and was the one who took the lead in this sinful act, and Adam followed, he is held responsible for it, but could it be that the woman's guilt is considered greater because she's the one who began the fall in the garden and then followed by her husband? I don't know, I'm just wondering if that's the reason, because there are mysteries involved in this, aren't there? But the requirement is clear. Whatever the reason for this is, it's a law, it's a command, it's a requirement of God. And we don't need to understand all the reasons why. If God says it, we must do it. Believing people understand that.

Whatever God says, I will do, I must do, I am required to do. It's not required that I understand it, but it is required that I obey it, and Jesus was born under the law, and his mother Mary and stepfather Joseph brought Mary to the temple at the 40-day interval in order to present the required sacrifices according to the law. And they brought, we're told, a pair of turtle doves or two young pigeons, and I'm told that whether it was pigeons or turtle doves probably depended upon the season of the year because I think the turtle doves are migratory and the pigeons are not. I may have that backwards, I'm not sure.

But one of those two would not be available at all times. But you remember the law of God in Leviticus required a lamb and a pigeon or turtle dove, unless the mother was poor. I've actually heard someone question whether Mary and Joseph are really poor.

Well, here's the evidence. They brought the poor person's sacrifice. Apparently they couldn't afford the lamb, but they brought the two turtle doves and the two pigeons, one for the bird offering, one for the sin offering, and carried out this requirement according to the law. What child is this? This is one who obeys the law of circumcision. What child is this? This is one who obeys through his mother the law of purification.

What child is this? This child is one who obeys the law of redemption, or sometimes called the law of presentation. And that begins in verse 22. They brought him, Jesus, to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord. And then we read in verse 24, and to offer the sacrifice according to what is said in the law, a pair of turtle doves and two young pigeons.

And I skipped verse 23. It is written in the law of the Lord, every male who opens the womb, and this is the important part, shall be called holy to the Lord, that is, shall be considered sanctified, set apart to the Lord, shall belong to the Lord, is what this is saying. Every firstborn male belongs to God. God told his people that in the book of Exodus.

Exodus 13, too. Consecrate to me all the firstborn, whatever opens the womb among the children of Israel, both of man and beast, it is mine. Whoever opens the womb, that means whoever is the first child that is born to the woman, the one who opens the womb. And then we read in verse 12, that you set apart to the Lord all that open the womb, that is, every firstborn that comes from an animal which you have, the males shall be the Lord's. They all belong to God.

Now, there's a lot of detail here that we don't have time to go into today. This relates to the death of the firstborn in the land of Egypt. God said, they all belong to me, and those who are rebellion against me will die, but those who have the blood applied will live, but they all belong to me. And then later, there was the stipulation that the Levites would be the tribe that would be designated to become holy to the Lord, separated for the special work of service in the temple, tabernacle first and then temple, and that they would take the place of the firstborn of all the other tribes. In other words, the Levites, not just the firstborn of the Levites, but all of the Levites, would be holy to the Lord in the sense of consecrated to Him in service, and they therefore would substitute for all the firstborn of the other tribes who were obligated to serve the Lord in this way. They all belong to the Lord. They were all holy. They all were obligated to basically be His servants in a particular way for the remainder of their lives, but the Levites would substitute for them, would redeem them. And you may remember that when they worked all this out back in the Old Testament, it turned out that there were, at the time that this took place and they counted all the men, there were, I think, 270-some Levites short of having one-to-one substitution for all the firstborn sons. This is how important this was. And so for that remaining 270-some, they all had to bring a monetary sacrifice to redeem them. It was a redemption prize to redeem them so that they could be released from the obligation.

So all of that's involved here. Now, Jesus was not of the tribe of Levi. He was of the tribe of Judah. So He's not going to be claimed for Levitical service in the temple. He won't be set aside as holy to the Lord in that way. But if He's not going to be set aside in that way, He has to be redeemed. He has to be bought out of that requirement.

He has to be presented to the Lord to say, we acknowledge your claim upon Him, your ownership upon Him, your right to have Him in whatever way you desire to use Him. But because He's not of the tribe of Levi, this would apply to any male, of course, because He's not of the tribe of Levi, we will bring the required redemption price and release Him from that redemption. That was a monetary price.

It amounted to, I think, five silver shekels. And that was another expense for Mary and Joseph. The expenses were piling up for them, and they weren't wealthy people, even though Joseph was a hardworking carpenter, but he still didn't have a lot of wealth. And therefore, it's understandable that they chose to take the poor person's option when it came to Mary's purification. But who is this child? He is one who obeyed the law of circumcision. He's one who obeyed the law of purification. He's one who obeyed the law of redemption. And the point is to note how carefully Jesus, and in this case His parents, kept every detail of the law of God, and that just started the pattern of His life. For the rest of His life, Jesus obeyed the law of God perfectly. Jesus obeyed the law of God in every detail. It could not be correctly and righteously said, He sinned here, He disobeyed here, He failed to keep the law here. No, He was the sinless one, the only sinless one. He kept every requirement of the law.

Even that law of Moses with 673 requirements, I think it is. He kept it because we didn't. He kept it because we couldn't.

He kept it because if there was going to be salvation for sinners who broke the law, there must be someone who did not break it, someone who is truly righteous who can substitute in the place of those who are truly sinful. So what child is this? Number one, He's one who obeyed the law.

What child is this? Number two, He's one who fulfills prophecy. Now this brings us more directly to Simeon. Verse 25 tells us, And behold, there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon, and this man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord's Christ.

So he came by the Spirit into the temple, and when the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him according to the custom of the law, that is to present him to the Lord and redeem him, he took him up in his arms and blessed God. Here is a man named Simeon who is a prophet. We really don't, most of us I don't think pay a lot of attention to the prophet Simeon. We have never even thought about him being a prophet before.

But it's very clear that he is. Verse 25 tells us that the Holy Spirit was upon him. Verse 26 tells us that it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit.

That's the way God spoke to the prophets. He revealed truth to them, and they became the mouthpiece of God to declare that to others. And so the Holy Spirit had revealed to him that he would not die until he had seen the Lord's Christ. I would love to know how many dozens, hundreds, maybe even thousands of people in Jerusalem Simeon proclaimed that message to. Messiah is coming, I'm not going to die until I see him. His coming is near. It is clear that there was something of an elevated expectation in Israel at the time of the coming of Christ.

And I think this may explain it to a greater extent than we have realized. Simeon the prophet received a prophecy that he wouldn't die until the Messiah came. Now, prophecies about the coming Messiah had been given for hundreds of years, thousands of years really, if you go all the way back to Genesis 3.15. And yet none of them specified the time. Not only was it very unspecified, but it wasn't even very generally pinpointable, if I can create a new word there. You can look for that one in Webster's dictionary, pinpointable. Except this one.

This one is. Simeon was told by the Spirit of God that he would not die until he had seen the Christ. In other words, until the Christ came and he, with his own eyes, would see him. That surely should have raised expectation in Jerusalem and the surrounding areas about the coming of the Messiah.

Is it true? Is he coming? This Messiah, long promised by our prophets in the Old Testament Scriptures, is he finally really coming? And so here is a prophet who receives a prophecy and receives the fulfillment of his prophecy. He came by the Spirit, several times we're told that all of this was by the power of the Holy Spirit, for he was indeed a prophet. He came by the Spirit into the temple. He was led by the Spirit of God into the temple at exactly the right time. He came in this door, Joseph and Mary and Jesus came in this door, and they met in the temple courtyard. And Simeon knew by the Spirit of God that the child that Mary was carrying, and there probably, who knows how many scores, maybe hundreds of children were brought to the temple that day to be presented to the Lord. But Simeon knew instantly, this is the one that God told me about.

This is the one who fulfills the promise that God made to me. He fulfilled prophecy. And this is just the last of many prophecies.

I'd never really thought of it in that way. But I think we would have to think of this as the last prophecy of the coming of Messiah. And it was given to Simeon and it was fulfilled in his lifetime. But it's just one in a long list of many going all the way back to Genesis 3.15.

To the serpent, you will bruise his heel, but he will crush your head. And on from there, all the many prophecies, literally hundreds of them concerning the coming of Christ. And so who is this child? He is one who fulfills prophecy. He is the long-awaited Messiah. He's the one of which all the prophets have told, and now he's here. And the last prophet finds the fulfillment of his prophecies in his very own arms, and he takes him up and he blesses God.

And so that brings us number three to who is this child. He is one who enlists worship. Verse 28, He, that is Simeon, took him up in his arms and blessed God and said, Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace according to your word. For mine eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared before the face of all peoples.

When you see that word people in the plural, it's referring to all of the different nations, all of the different languages, all the different tribes of the earth. The face of all the peoples, a light to bring revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people, Israel. This child is one who enlists praise and worship. In fact, in this case, worship consists of praise and prayer. First praise, Simeon took him up in his arms, and we expect the next words to say, and he blessed the child, but he didn't. He took him up in his arms and he blessed God.

Of course, if he had blessed the child, he would have been blessing God as well. But he blessed God. And how does a human being bless God? We understand how God blesses human beings. He bestows upon them some blessing, some gift, some help, some grace that otherwise they would not have. How does a human being bless God? By calling him blessed and calling attention to his glory, his honor, his power, his character, his worthiness. It is to praise him. It is to extol him.

And that's what Simeon did. He's worshiping God. For this child is one who draws worship out of those who know who he is. And so there's the worship of praise, and then there's the worship of prayer. He praised the Lord, and then he prayed. Verse 29 and following is directed to God. Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace. He said to the Lord, he addressed God. And I see two conspicuous elements in his prayer. We could call them number one, submission, and number two, salvation. There is evidence of Simeon's submission to God here.

Verse 29 again, Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace according to your word. And that word for Lord is the rare one, not the common one. The usual word for Lord in the Greek is kurios, or karios, however it should be pronounced. And normally when you see the word Lord, that's what it is. And it means master. It means owner. It means boss. And depending upon what context it is used in, it would be used of the owner of slaves.

It would be used of many, many personages. But always a high and exalted one, one who is above the level of the person who is using this word to him and addressing him as Lord. And of course when it comes to God, it means he is Lord God Almighty. But if I could put it this way, I don't know if this is quite the right way to put it, but I would have to characterize the common word for Lord as maybe a softer term than the one that Simeon used. He uses the rarer Greek word.

This is the Greek word despotes, despot. That has a very harsh ring to us. I don't think in Simeon's lips it had a harsh ring. I don't think in the lips of the disciples in Acts chapter 4 when they're in their prayer, they prayed to God and addressed him as despotes.

I don't think it had a harsh ring to them. But all it does is point special attention to his authority, his rulership, his sovereignty. He is absolutely sovereign over all, and he is absolutely sovereign over Simeon, who acknowledges that at this time. Submission. His prayer involves submission. He is praying a submissive prayer.

And this submission I could break down in three parts. Submission, first of all, is a general principle to call him Lord. You are the sovereign one. You are the one who has the right to rule the universe you created. You are the one who has the right to rule me. I acknowledge that. I owe my submission to you.

As a general rule, I am always under your authority, and I acknowledge that. But Simeon's submission was not just for a general rule or a general principle, but it was also for a particular event. Lord, you are now letting your servant depart in peace. In other words, now, it sounds like he's saying, now is the time for me to die. That's what God had said, you won't die until you see the Christ child. So now you've seen him, and Simeon is saying okay.

He's saying, at least he's saying it's okay for me to die now. Now, we always assume that Simeon is an old man. Probably he was, but the text doesn't really tell us how old he was.

All we know is that he'd been told that he wouldn't die until he saw the Lord Christ. Even if he was an old man, or shall we say older man, he wasn't decrepit. He wasn't housebound. He wasn't at home being tended to by others. He was up and about walking in the temple.

In other words, from all appearances, he probably had a few more good years left. But he's saying, Lord, if you want to take me now, I'm yours. I not only submit to the general principle that you are ruler of all, I submit to this particular circumstance. You have the right to take my life right now, and I have no objections.

I'm perfectly happy with that. There's one thing to claim to believe in the sovereignty of God, that you submit all things unto his rule. And then it's another thing to actually submit when this difficult thing comes along, and suddenly we have a tendency to flare up and say, oh, not that, Lord, not that. Is he sovereign Lord, ruler of everything? Are you submitted to him in everything? Then, yes, this too, this particular event is under his sovereign rule.

Are you submitted to that? And so he was submitted as a general principle when he said, Lord, despotes. He was submitted for a particular event when he said, I'm perfectly content to die now if you want to take my life. He was submitted to a specific revelation according to your word. Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace according to your word.

Because Simeon wasn't just, what should I say, running off at the mouth when he said, the Lord told me this and the Lord told me that. This is according to your word. You did tell me this because I'm a prophet and the Holy Spirit told me this, and the proof that it was the Holy Spirit is it was fulfilled.

I have seen the child. He did come before I died. There are a lot of people in our day who claim that God speaks to them, but I've noticed, I don't know any of them that has 100 percent accuracy in what they say the Lord told them. That's not a true prophet.

That's a phantom. That's a deception. I think many people are well meaningly deceived about this, but that's a deception. If what you think God said to you doesn't come to pass perfectly every time, that wasn't God and you're no prophet.

But Simeon was. Be careful what language you use. Well, the Lord told me this. The Lord told me that.

What do you mean by that? If God said it, it is infallible inspired word and it cannot fail. If it fails, then God didn't say it because God can't fail. You did, but God didn't.

You are mistaken. God is never mistaken. Do you understand? And so we see Simeon's submission. We see his understanding of salvation. The person of salvation, mine eyes have seen your salvation. Salvation is not a thing.

It's a person. Here he is. Simeon's holding him. Mine eyes have seen your salvation. It's in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. Simeon understood the scope of salvation. This salvation was prepared, he tells us, in the faces of all people in verse 31. That's a way of saying for everyone.

It's to the ends of the earth. It's for all peoples and nations and tongues and tribes. The scope of salvation. And the purpose of salvation is given here as well.

Verse 32. It is a light to Gentiles and the glory of Israel. It is truth to Gentiles and it is glory to Israel. It's what gives Israel its true glory.

It's what makes Israel true worshippers. And as far as the Gentiles who have been in darkness, it's what brings them light and truth and understanding. Which they needed, they were in darkness, but those who sat in darkness have seen a great light. And salvation brings light, truth, that dispels all the darkness, all the fog, all the misunderstandings. And salvation brings glory.

It causes people to live for the purpose for which they were intended. When glory is brought to Israelites, it will cause them to worship God from their hearts, not according to the external rituals of following all the Mosaic laws outwardly, but their hearts being far from God. Instead, they will have the true glory of God, an inward desire to worship and serve God. They will no longer put all of their hopes of the Messiah into a political framework. When the Messiah comes, he's going to free us from the yoke of Rome and make us an important nation. But the true glory of Israel is when he comes, he's going to make us a worshiping nation and a truth-bearing nation and one who can truly shed glorious light into all of this dark world. Simeon understood the nature of salvation.

And who is this child? He is one who enlists worship. And what are the elements of worship?

Well, in Simeon's case, they are praise, prayer, submission, and salvation. When it comes to salvation, the worship part is to understand the need for salvation. That brings us to worship God. It involves the provision of salvation. When we understand that, it causes us to worship God. It involves faith in the God of salvation through his son, Jesus Christ, and that brings worship to God. It involves gratitude for salvation, which has been given, and that involves worship to God.

We talk sometimes about worshiping God, but don't give enough thought to what exactly we're doing or what we should be doing. Simeon helps us with that because this child is one who enlists worship. And number four, this child is one who amazes the faithful. Verse 33, And Joseph and his mother marveled at those things which were spoken of him.

Don't we all, when we come to understand this truth, I stand amazed in the presence of Jesus the Nazarene and wonder how could he could love me, a sinner condemned unclean? This child amazes the faithful. And who is amazed? In this case, his parents, his father and his mother.

That is, his birth mother and his legal father, Joseph. And they are amazed because they are those who believe God's word. No question that Mary and Joseph did. They are amazed, these ones who obey God's commandments.

And again, no question that Mary and Joseph did. And yet too, ones like this, there was amazement. And friends, when you believe God's word as they did and when you obey God's commandments as they did, you will stand amazed, more amazed than ever in the truth of Christ and his salvation. That's who was amazed, but why were they amazed? That's the question, why were they amazed? Joseph and his mother marveled at those things which were spoken of him.

Well, hadn't they received a lot of information about this child before now? Why are they amazed at this? And it would seem to be that, number one, they are amazed because of truth which they already knew, which they are hearing again, and it delights them and amazes them. But number two, because they heard truth that they did not know.

And what would that be? That this child is not just for Israel, this child is for the whole world. Didn't they know that before? They should have, if they had been reading the Old Testament Scriptures carefully, as all Jews should have, but most did not. But as I went back and looked at the various statements that were made to Mary and Joseph and those around him about the birth of Jesus, and I had never looked at it in this light before, but I realize there does seem to be a conspicuous lack of emphasis upon the world and Gentiles.

Let me see if I can show that to you. Luke 1, 31 to 33, the angel to Mary. Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a son, and shall call his name Jesus.

He will be great. He will be called the Son of the Highest, and the Lord God will give him the throne of his father David. There's a conspicuously Jewish emphasis. Now, it goes beyond that, but there's no way that Mary would have understood it beyond that. And verse 33, he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end. Well, that's a pretty Jewish revelation, isn't it?

And on it goes. If we take Mary's magnificat, her response to all of this, as she worshiped God, she says, among other things, in verse 54 of chapter 1, He has helped his servant Israel in remembrance of his mercy, as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham, and to his seed forever. You hear the Jewish emphasis there? Mary is marveling that the promised Jewish Messiah has come to Jews, to the Jewish people to whom the Messiah was promised. Or if we take up the prophecy of Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist, and he said, Blessed is the Lord God of Israel, for he has visited and redeemed his people, and he has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David. The Jewish emphasis, the Jewish emphasis.

And so it is, all the way through. Verse 71, that we should be saved from our enemies and from the hands of those who hate us, to perform the mercy promised to our fathers, to remember his holy covenant, the oath which he swore to our father Abraham, to grant us that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies, might serve him without fear. Those words to the ears of Jewish people all spoke of Israel, didn't they? In fact, even the angel's message that came to Joseph, when he says, She, Mary, shall bring forth a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.

Now, in the light that we have, we understand that, ought to understand that a little bit differently than Joseph did, but can anyone doubt that when Joseph heard that, he was thinking of Israel? He shall save his people, the nation of Israel, the Israelites, the seed of Abraham. He shall save his people from their sins. We look at that today, and we say, oh, he wasn't talking just about Israel. In the first place, he didn't save all of Israel, but it says he will save his people.

It didn't say he'll try to and hope to and endeavor to and wish he could. The ones he's going to save, the people he's going to save, he will save, infallibly, but it won't just be among the Jews, it'll be his elect people. His people, who are the elect, he shall save them, infallibly. We understand that phrase differently than Joseph did, but to Joseph, that had a distinctly Jewish ring to it, didn't it? And Simeon says, Mine eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared before the face of all peoples.

They like to bring revelation to the Gentiles and the glory of your people Israel. And Joseph and his mother marveled at these things which were spoken of him. They were amazed because I think this is a new thought, new truth, an advancement, an enlargement. There's more to this miraculous child that they know to be the Son of God and they know to be the Messiah and they know to be the Savior of Israel, but there's more to him than they ever realized. It goes far beyond that, and no wonder they are amazed.

What child is this? It's one who amazes the faithful, and he continues to amaze the faithful. Those who are believers, as we learn more and more and more about him, we are more and more and more amazed. The amazements keep piling up the more we learn, don't they?

Because this child can infinitely amaze us with what we learn about him. So what do we learn from this lesson about this child, who he is? Let me just say something about believers in the law of God. True believers submit to God's law. True believers submit to God's law, but only Jesus obeyed the law perfectly. So true believers submit in principle, but don't always submit in every particular instance, but true believers willingly obey and confess their sins, their failures. We all sin, but the difference between a true believer and one who is not is a true believer acknowledges his sin, regrets his sin, repents of his sin, confesses his sin, seeks forgiveness for his sin, whereas the unbeliever says, Oh, it's no big thing. He justifies it and goes on. But true believers submit to the law of God and acknowledge their failure, and true believers seek divine aid for ongoing disobedience.

Does that describe you? Because if it doesn't, I have a word for you. You need to be born again. You need to be made a true believer by the work of God's Holy Spirit.

Go to Christ and ask him for that transforming power. But I say another word about believers and the extent of obedience to the law, and this we don't learn from our text, but we learn from the life of Jesus as we see it unfolding before us in the gospels, and that is that obedience is to God's word, not necessarily to whatever is claimed to be God's word. Example, Jesus was regularly pronounced a Sabbath breaker by the religious leaders of his day. He didn't break it. He never broke it. He never broke the Sabbath as given by God. He just didn't keep all the extra rules that had been added on by the traditions of men. They said he was breaking the Sabbath, breaking God's law. He never broke God's law, but he didn't submit himself to every addition of men. He obeyed God's laws perfectly, but he rejected human traditions that falsely claimed to be God's law.

And we need to learn to do the same as well. I didn't bring it with me, so my mind may not be able to pull it up at the moment, but Martin Luther, in one of the hymns we sing, has something like, Let none but Christ your master be. That's what he's saying.

That's what he's saying. Let none but Christ your master, your ultimate master be. We obey the law of God. We obey the Lord Jesus Christ. We obey what God has said. True believers do. If you don't, there's something wrong with you.

You need to be born again. But we don't necessarily submit to everything that man says. We weigh it.

We study it. We come to the truth of what God has spoken. But I conclude with the wonderful message of Christmas, which is the promised Messiah has come.

What child is this? It's the Lord's Christ. He came. And salvation is now proclaimed to the world, not just to Gentiles, but to Jews.

How many of us would be left out if it were still being proclaimed only to the Jews? Because this child is the Christ who has come, believers are filled with hope and joy. We love to sing.

We love to think about what has taken place. And guilty sinners have a way of cleansing. God has made the way.

God has provided the way. God has promised the cleansing if you will come to Christ in faith. You need not remain an unjustified guilty sinner before the judgment bar of God for another day. Yes, not even another hour if you will come to Christ in faith. Jesus has come.

What child is this? The Savior of sinners. And for everyone who sees himself a sinner, knows himself to be a sinner, and wants cleansing from his sin, there is that cleansing because this child came. Shall we pray? Father, how we thank you that you gave your son. Apply his work to every heart according to the needs that you know to be there. We ask in Jesus' name, amen.
Whisper: medium.en / 2022-12-19 14:29:49 / 2022-12-19 14:47:02 / 17

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